In some ways negative thinking is protective. It prevents us from leaping into danger. The problem occurs when negativity dominates our lives and affects interpersonal relationships. So how do we stop negative thoughts?
Are the walls really crumbling down?
When things aren’t the way we like we are tempted to paint a gloomy picture. So we think, “Well, if I assume the worst, I can’t get hurt.” If disaster strikes we want to be ready, so we adopt this anesthesia against bad news. The problem is this can lead to a constant state of hurt affecting those around you also. Let the truth free you instead.
The first step in how to stop negative thoughts is to stop labeling. Labels get you stuck. So do your best to avoid saying things like:
- I always make mistakes.
- My life stinks.
- I’m a horrible person.
- There is no hope for my family.
- He/she is always a problem.
- I’m always unlucky.
None of these labels are true. Don’t be fooled into believing them.
Nobody can predict the future, so stop trying. If you keep telling yourself that you are going to fail, then you might just ruin any chances of success. Or if you keep imagining someone is going to end up in a mess, then you might not be able to see clearly in order to help. Try not to project doomsday upon the world.
Also, you can’t read other people’s minds, so avoid imagining negative thoughts into their heads. A person might not have returned your phone call or email for many reasons other than they hate you. Maybe they have a life to live first, right?
It’s not all about you
Remember, you can’t control the universe no matter how much you worry. This includes the bad things that happen. So much is out of your control. Accept this reality and free yourself from taking all the blame on yourself.
What are you really afraid of?
It’s time to dig a little deeper. What are your true fears? Coming to grips with these will help you even more than the coping mechanisms mentioned above. Perhaps you have had a traumatic experience in the past. Have you looked for a way to reconcile this?
Maybe you are afraid of failure, scared to try, or afraid of risk. Are you scared to live and trust in God? Maybe you feel that you deserve to control the world. Put away these self-centered ideas and begin to focus on something much greater: HOPE.
So what if you make a mistake? All people – great and small – have made great mistakes. But never give up hope. Life is an experience, not perfection. It’s often messy and sometimes even bloody. When a baby is born there’s pain, suffering, and blood. But then new life appears. And before all this goes great hope.
When you pray, let your negative thoughts blow away and unwind in God’s presence. Even if it takes a while, let his Spirit cleanse you of negativity. Then, when you’re ready, ask God for help. Ask him to put order into your thought process. The perfect order that he wants for you consists of faith, hope, and love.
When you stop to pray, you break out of the vicious cycle of negative thinking. Sometimes you have to force yourself at first. Begin with this simple prayer: “Jesus, I trust in you.” Repeat this over and over until you calm down enough to start seeing things more realistically.
Ask to be freed of negativity. Ask with confidence, and ask in Jesus’ name.
Even in moments of true darkness you can run to him. Focus on God’s great compassion and mercy. He will help you accept things as they are without worry. He might not change your situation, but he is guaranteed to change your heart.
Jesus showed us the way. His prayer to his Father? Thy Will Be Done. Let God take control.
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